Chuck Schumer’s deal with the devil

Chuck Schumer’s deal with the devil
© Greg Nash

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar MORE made a deal with the devil Monday. 

When you play high stakes poker, you got, in the immortal words of Kenny Rogers "to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em." Schumer held a very strong hand but he folded Monday when he agreed to support a deal to keep the federal government open until Feb. 8 and left immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age in political purgatory. 

Schumer was in the driver's seat in his game of chicken with Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems eye next stage in Mueller fight House Oversight Dem wants Trump to release taxes and 'get it over with' Senate rejection of Green New Deal won't slow Americans' desire for climate action MORE. Schumer had lots of leverage and let it slip away.

Last week Senate Democrats were holding out for full protection for the Dreamers but settled for a vague promise to discuss the crisis. Even if the Senate does debate a bill in the next few weeks to protects the Dreamers, there is nothing in the resolution that holds Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to his promise to schedule a vote. And even if there is a vote to protect the Dreamers, there's no guarantee Donald Trump will sign it. 

The minority leader had lots of leverage but he let it slip away. Schumer was holding at least a couple of aces. If he had played his hand and waited a week, instead of folding, he might have won. He had the president and the GOP majorities in Congress cornered because of the public pressure to protect the Dreamers and the blame that Americans would have laid on the GOP for the shutdown.

If Schumer had waited a few days, Republicans might have folded and bowed to the public pressure to keep the government open and protect the dreamers. But now, we'll never know because the senator from New York let Trump and the Senate majority leader off the hook. The Dreamers are now at the tender mercies of the Republican Party.

These are the cards that the Schumer had to play. His hand was stronger than McConnell's but it doesn't matter because he didn't play his hand.

A national survey conducted last week by ABC News showed Americans blamed the government shutdown on the terrible trio of Republicans: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'Haven't thought about' pardons for Mueller target Pence: Rocket attack 'proves that Hamas is not a partner for peace' Conservation remains a core conservative principle MORE, McConnell and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down MORE (48 percent) who control the federal government. Only one in four people (28 percent) blamed Democrats. Schumer let the three Republicans and the GOP off the hook. 

Democrats had public opinion behind them but failed to use it as leverage. A national poll conducted last week by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News showed Americans overwhelmingly supported a government fix to protect the Dreamers. Nine in every 10 (87 percent) Americans wanted a deal to protect the young immigrants.

Democrats have a chance to score a big win in the November midterm congressional elections. But victory in midterms is very much a function of turnout and bailing on DACA may weaken the resolve of Hispanics to vote. With an eye towards the base voters who make up the Democratic primary electorate six of the 16 Democrats who voted against the bill were 2020 presidential aspirants. The Democratic presidential hopefuls who stood up for the Dreamers were Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerNew Jersey set to cancel vote to legalize recreational marijuana Jam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Poll: Biden, Sanders lead Trump in Iowa MORE, Karen Gillibrand, Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC Ex-GOP lawmaker Handel to run for her former Georgia seat in 2020 MORE, Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyFather of Sandy Hook victim dies in apparent suicide Sanders: 'We must follow New Zealand's lead' and ban assault weapons The fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change MORE, Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Treason narrative collapses; who bears responsibility? Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC MORE and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC Poll: Biden, Sanders lead Trump in Iowa MORE.

Schumer should have remembered the words of John F. Kennedy: “You cannot negotiate with people who say what's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable.” Schumer gave into Republicans who wanted to take it all without giving anything up.

Schumer has done a remarkable job holding Senate Democrats together in votes against the Trump tax plan and TrumpCare. I understand the majority leader's commitment to continuing to fund the Child Health Insurance Program. But in this case Trump gave up lots and got little in return.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. (There is no relation to Trump adviser Stephen Bannon). He is also a senior adviser to, and editor of, the blog at, a social media network for politics. Contact him at